• Núria Estapé, science journalist

    Caffeine for the skin

    The beauty industry has appropriated the active ingredient of our most universal breakfast drink. Caffeine, the alkaloid that wakes us up by stimulating the nervous system, also has beneficial properties for the skin. It appears that it reduces cellulite, increases blood circulation in the small blood vessels that nourish the skin, prevents skin cancers and even promotes hair growth in men.


    Caffeine is being included in formulas for body creams, hair lotions and other cosmetic preparations. Most of these products contain just 3% of this substance. Its chemical characteristics (it dissolves in water but not in oil) make its application in cosmetics difficult, because, in its free form, it penetrates poorly to the interior of the epidermis. But thanks to modern emulsions and microspheres for delivering substances and facilitating penetration, caffeine is now used as a key skincare ingredient. Read More

  • Anna Solana, science journalist

    Photoprotective pills

    14 Oct  Photoprotective pills



    Actas Dermo-Sifiliográficas

    Applying sunscreen is the most common way to protect the skin from the sun’s radiation, but not everyone uses the most suitable product and not everyone remembers to re-apply it after a few hours. For some time now, more convenient alternatives for avoiding UV damage have been investigated. Oral photoprotectors could be one solution.


    These products are sold as a method to protect the skin of the entire body evenly and uniformly, with no need to worry about sweat or contact with clothes or water, as happens with sunscreens. Oral sunscreens essentially contain antioxidants (carotenoids, polyphenols, flavonoids, etc.) and vitamins (C, E) that restore damage to DNA caused by UV rays. So far, however, they have not been shown to provide sufficient protection to be able to replace sun creams and, even less, to replace coverup clothing, sunhats and sunglasses. Read More

  • Núria Estapé, science journalist

    A cosmetic’s journey into the skin

    Manufacturers promise flawless skin if we use cosmetics that they claim penetrate the skin and improve cell functioning. And yes, of course they do penetrate – but to what depth? The skin’s outermost layer, specially designed to act as a barrier, is formed of nearly impermeable tissue. So, how can cosmetics penetrate the skin?


    No cosmetic active ingredient has yet been invented that crosses the epidermal barrier and penetrates deep into the skin. In fact, a substance that appears to penetrate the dermis and hypodermis is most likely absorbed by the blood vessels. In that case it would be a drug, not a cosmetic active ingredient, because it affects metabolism. With nicotine patches applied to the skin, for instance, tiny nicotine molecules travel via the skin layers until they reach blood vessels. Does nicotine act on the skin on its way to the blood? The answer is no. Read More

  • Núria Estapé, science journalist

    The skin and environmental stress

    Air pollution, extreme temperatures, artificial light, ultraviolet radiation, noise, cigarette smoke and traffic fumes: all these environmental stressors threaten the health of our skin. Recent studies show that when the skin is continuously exposed to various forms of environmental stress it ages much faster and becomes vulnerable to diseases such as cancer.


    The skin is the wrapper that connects us to the environment and protects our body from the inclemencies of the weather. This is hardly surprising, as the skin is the body’s organ that suffers most when our living environment is toxic and inhospitable. Our skin reflects everything, whether it comes from within or without, whether it’s psychological problems, the repercussions of what we eat, the air we breathe or what touches our skin. Living conditions in large cities and industrial areas have created new problems for our skin, designed to be able to adapt to temperature and humidity variations in natural habitats. Read More